June 23, 2008

From the desk of Allen Vaught

The State of Summer Fun
Planning Your Summer Activities? Check out these State Guides. . .

School has ended and the temperature is above sweltering. Summer is officially here. This means it’s time to make plans for summer travel and fun.

Texas is home to a variety of activities as diverse as the state itself. From state parks to cultural activities to heritage touring here is a brief guide to finding what is available across Texas and close to home for your next outing.

The Great Outdoors
With ninety percent of our state’s land privately owned, our state parks system plays an important role in providing an outdoor experience for Texas’ increasingly urban population.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department manages our park system, provides outdoor recreation opportunities and educates outdoor enthusiasts. By redirecting the sporting goods sales tax to its originally intended target, increases to the parks system budget have brought about much needed repairs and improvements to both the facilities and services. So if you haven’t been to a state park recently, plan a visit and see what’s new.

To encourage more people to enjoy the sport of fishing, Texas Parks and Wildlife has waived the license and stamp requirements for fishing at our state parks. Just pay the entrance fees, and you are free to fish within the park. Parks and Wildlife also hosts many learn-to-fish days, so check out the schedule and start preparing your tale of the one that got away. www.tpwd.state.tx.us/fishboat/fish/programs/familyfish/

Wireless internet service is available in several state parks for those who love the great outdoors but need to stay connected. The service offers working adults the potential to remain at a park longer than they otherwise would and provides connectivity to recreational vehicle users who are frequently away from home for extended periods of time. Also, park users are able to better plan their activities in the park using up-to-date weather reports. www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/parkinfo/facilities/wireless_internet/

For Parks and Wildlife activities closer to home, the department offers a Dallas/Fort Worth Urban Outdoor program. The program features activities for kids, the Texas Outdoors-Woman Network, and fishing and boating opportunities in the North Texas area. www.tpwd.state.tx.us/learning/urban_outdoor_programs/dallas_fort_worth/index.phtml

Hey, Where’s That?
Looking for recommendations on general Texas fun? Visit the Travel Texas website operated by the governor’s Economic Development and Tourism office. The site features a trip planner plus information about seasonal events and activities across the state.

If you have seen the beautifully photographed Texas tourism television and print ad campaigns and wondered about the locations, the site features a map which pinpoints each scene. The ads are online for viewing and mapping at http://www.traveltex.com/ .

Homegrown History
My fellow history buffs will enjoy the guides offered by the Texas Historical Commission’s Heritage Trail Program. Ten different trails cover the entire state and offer a look at the history and culture of each region. For those staying nearby this summer, the Metro area is covered by the Lakes Trail. Learn more about each region and find all the trail maps on the Historical Commission’s website. http://www.thc.state.tx.us/

The Commission’s website is also home to the Texas Historic Sites Atlas. Use this tool to find information about and locations of courthouses, museums and other historic sites. The atlas also features the text and locations of historical markers across the state.

Whether traveling to the far corners of the state or relaxing close to home, you are sure to encounter spectacular natural beauty, find a new adventure, or learn a little of our history using these state resources as your guide to Texas summer fun.

Questions about any of the guides? Call my District office at 214-370-8305.